Reading Valerie Bowman's Playful Brides series, is like walking into a menagerie is mishaps with twists and turns that make me shake my head and then finally sign a resounding ahhhhhh. The Accidental Countess is no exception.
After recovering from his injuries from the Napoleonic war, Captain Julian Swift arrives back in England to see the woman he is supposed to be betrothed to. He has not set eyes on Penelope in many years. When he arrives at her home, he is greeted by two of her friends, who tell him that his intended is not at home, she has gone to console a friend.
Lady Cassandra Monroe has already had her share of distressing moments. Cass was supposed to become the Duchess of Claringdon, but she had no intention once her friend Lucy proved to be the perfect match for the Duke. Cass has had feelings for Captain Julian Swift, so much so that when he left for his service to the crown, she promised to write him frequently. Seven years have now passed and Julian is set to return, but his almost betrothed, Penelope, does not want to see him. She has concocted a fictional friend named Patience Banbury, who she uses as an excuse to not be in attendance when Julian arrives.
Once in Julian's company, minus Penelope, Cassandra and Lucy find that seven years is a long time for him to recall the one who has kept him alive with the wit and wisdom of her written words. Lucy is devastated when Julian does not recall the girl who was actually sixteen when he left England. Insanity ensues when Lucy blurts out that Cass is actually Patience Banbury, and so the merry deception and begins, but to what end?
The Accidental Countess by Valerie Bowman is a Shakespearean comedy gone wild. When Lucy throws Cass to the wolves by presenting her as someone she is not, she inevitably begins a game that is more difficult by the hour for Cass to extricate herself from. Lucy sees it as a chance for Julian to become more acquainted with the woman who has been in love with him for ages, but Cass is thrown for a loop pretending to be someone she is not. When Cassandra finds out that Julian, in fact does not wish to marry Penelope, she thinks all the deception is for naught and attempts to find a way out of Lucy's maniacal plan before it's too late.
Cassandra and Julian are two of my favorite characters in this series. Throughout the entire tale, Julian is the embodiment of the perfect gentleman. He wants to properly end things with Pen before he seeks out the lady who kept him alive with her letters. Cassandra is both a mess and an anomaly when posing as Patience. She gains a confidence she didn't have in the past and this makes her character all the more interesting. Valerie Bowman has made her niche as one of my favorite authors with The Accidental Countess firmly cementing her to the top of my "to be read" list. I hope you enjoy The Accidental Countess by Valerie Bowman as much as I did, it's a tale not to be missed.